Shows L

honour that he will not attempt to escape, and the General accedes to his request. Dimitry goes to dress for the occasion and, with only an hour to spare before his departure for Warsaw, he enters the ballroom in his elegant white dress suit. ACT 2 As Dimitry enters the ballroom, a waltz is about to get under way. It is time, too, for the ladies to take off their masks and, when the General asks his fiancée to unmask, Dimitry is astounded to discover that the lady who has so taken his fancy is the one whose rescue from Prince Paul's clutches had brought about his death sentence. For the time being, he covers his shock by bidding the company to embark on a swirling waltz but, under cover of the dancing, Dimitry and Vera engage in conversation. She urges him to flee, but he insists that he is bound not to by his word of honour. All she can do for him, he says, is to join him in the dance, his last waltz. Ippolith is still trying to resolve his dilemma over which sister to marry. When the ladies' choice is called, he imagines that all he has to do is to wait and see which of the sisters is most eager to dance with him, but they prefer him to be the one to make up his mind and they go off to dance with three other officers. Vera, meanwhile, has had an idea of how she might help Dimitry and she sends the cadet Orsinski with a message to the stationmaster. Trembling at the thought of how she must enchant Dimitry to persuade him to follow her plan, she picks up a hand-mirror and gazes at her reflection, seeking desperately for reassurance. 'Dance, Vera Lisaweta,' it tells her. Besides Annuschka, Hannuschka and Petruschka, Vera has yet another sister, Babuschka, who is considered too young to attend the ball. However, Babuschka has decided that it is time she broke out from her Cinderella-like role, and she arrives at the ball under the guardianship of her Uncle Jaroschka. Ippolith is still trying to resolve his three-cornered predicament when he comes upon Babuschka and invites her to dance. Her uncle has forbidden her to speak to any young man, but they dispose of that problem by singing to each other—he not least of the dimples in her cheeks . Orsinski returns with the news that the stationmaster has agreed to Vera's request and, meeting up again with Dimitry, Vera tells him that a troika waits below the window to take him to the station. 'At forty minutes after midnight the Nice express passes through the station. The stationmaster has promised me that he will stop the train. You will board the train as a courier for the Emperor. A pass with the necessary official stamps will take you over the border unhindered, and you will be safe.' 'Why are you concerned with the destiny of a man you have seen fleetingly only twice?' Dimitry asks. 'Because I love you,' she replies. 'But my word of honour!' Dimitry replies. 'There is something higher than a man's honour,' she replies, 'and that is a woman's honour. If you don't listen to me and flee, the General and the whole company will find you in my arms.' Dimitry holds Vera for a moment in his arms and then disappears through a secret door. The evening's entertainment comes to a height with a display of national dancing accompanied by a balalaika (before the soldiers come to collect Dimitry for his journey. He is nowhere to be found. Vera throws open the window, looks out at the starry winter night and points to the thread of light that is the Nice express. To everyone's surprise the train stops at the local station before setting off again. Vera tells the soldiers that Dimitry has gone, and she explains that she was the lady over whose honour Dimitry was sentenced to death by Prince Paul. 'He broke his word and forgot his duty,' Captain Kaminski declares, but at that very moment Dimitry reappears in the room. 'You are wrong,' he cries. `That he didn't do!' He explains to Vera that he could not break his promise to his friends and, as he looks into her eyes, they reflect that it really was Dimitry's last waltz after all. ACT 3 In a salon of Prince Paul's palace, a company of dancing girls are performing for the Prince's pleasure. For them, too, the story of the condemned Count Dimitry has a romantic interest, and they dare to ask the Prince